European Patent Law

European Patent Law

Towards a Uniform Interpretation

Stefan Luginbuehl

In his detailed study, Stefan Luginbuehl critically examines the latest efforts to establish a common European and EU patent litigation system and suggests possible alternatives to such a system.

Chapter 7: Summary and General Conclusions

Stefan Luginbuehl

Subjects: law - academic, comparative law, european law, intellectual property law


The European Patent Convention (EPC) is an international treaty which established inter alia a system of law, including substantive law for the granting of patents. As such it is binding international uniform law, uniform ‘European patent law’. All authorities dealing with European patents therefore have the obligation to construe the EPC and corresponding national law implementing the EPC in an international spirit, based on its ratio and with a view to creating a uniform interpretation beyond their own borders. This is particularly important if, in a revocation or infringement case, they deal with the method in order to determine the extent of protection (Article 69 EPC) and the grounds for revocation (Article 138 EPC), as well as the related patentability criteria (Articles 52–57 EPC) of a European patent. The fact that the European patent is a ‘bundle of patents’, and thus the different parts of the patent can have a separate destiny, has no impact on this general obligation. Nevertheless, some courts of EPC contracting states ignored this duty and construed European patent law with a purely national perspective. Others executed the required legal comparative interpretation by taking each other’s legal understanding and case law into practical consideration. Nevertheless, a uniform interpretation could not be fully reached, thus giving rise to legal uncertainty, and a common European patent court which could ensure uniform interpretation does not currently exist. This study reveals that the goal of a uniform interpretation of European patent law could be reached by a ‘patchwork’ of...

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